Backers of an anti-traffic initiative in Thousand Oaks cheered the news this week that their growth-control measure had qualified for a special election in June, while a similar proposal in Oxnard failed to make the November ballot.
"What a thrill!" said Nino DeFranco, one of two Thousand Oaks residents leading the campaign for the local initiative. "I was very excited. I know we'll win if people show up to vote."
The measure would require voter approval of a proposed Home Depot store or any retail project of 75,000 square feet or more if the project would increase traffic, even after road improvements. The campaign is largely being driven by a competitor of the retail giant but has also garnered the support of many residents who favor limited growth.
The City Council on Tuesday received a report from the Ventura County Elections Division verifying a random sample of the more than 15,300 signatures that were on the petition. More than 75% of the signatures were certified as accurate. Only 10,360 verifiable signatures were required.
The council also confirmed an earlier decision to hire a private consultant to analyze the effect the measure could have on the city's economy. That report will be discussed at the council's Feb. 5 meeting.
At that time, the council will have the option of adopting the initiative as law or to call a special citywide election by adding the measure to the June 3 state primary ballot.
In Oxnard, a similar traffic initiative failed to collect the nearly 6,000 signatures needed to qualify for the fall ballot.
The proposal by City Councilman Tim Flynn sought to block most housing and large commercial developments within five miles of a congested intersection. It would have required that developers first improve traffic flow at problem intersections or face a public vote.
The petition drive was hurt because many of the signatures came from residents with Oxnard ZIP codes but who actually lived in unincorporated county areas, such as El Rio or Silver Strand Beach, Flynn said.
Volunteers will return in the next few weeks with a modified version of the initiative, he said.
The new proposal would exempt nonprofits, such as hospitals and churches, from being required to improve substandard intersections before construction begins. It also includes a "sunset provision," allowing the initiative to expire after 20 years, and specifies that developers pay the cost of an election.